8 things to know about the Omaha Mavericks

  1. The Mavericks are only returning 43% of their scoring from last season.  That is tied with Oral Roberts for the lowest in the Summit League.  They should have the most to replace after Tre’Shawn Thurman transferring to Nevada, Marcus Tyus playing professional basketball in Europe, and Tra-Deon Hollins playing in the NBA G League.
  2. The Mavericks are one of two teams in the Summit League to feature a game on ESPN2 this season.
  3. For three weeks in a row, they will play a conference game at home on a Saturday night at 7pm.  January 6th versus South Dakota State, January 13th versus Fort Wayne, and January 20th versus South Dakota.  Creighton men’s basketball is away on all of those dates.  Just so you know.
  4. Mitch Hahn, who will be a starter this season, led Summit League bench players in three point field goals made last season.
  5. Their student section is nicknamed “The Bullpen” which really makes no sense for sports other than baseball and softball.
  6. Derrin Hansen is the longest tenured coach in the Summit League.
  7. They are ranked 1st in the Summit League in Most Bitter About Not Playing In-State D-1 Teams.
  8. THEY GET TO WITNESS MORE CURLING THAN YOU THIS SEASON
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Surprise! The Mavericks and Jays are playing!

It’s here.  It’s finally happening.  The Jays and the Mavericks will play basketball on the same court, at the same time, and in a bizarre twist they’ll even be playing against each other.

In a charity game for Hurricane Relief, and a little bit for the Mavericks’ ego, the Jays will finally face off against the Mavericks in an exhibition game.  This is actually the Mavericks’ first exhibition game since transitioning to division one.  Unless you count all of 2011-2012 season an exhibition season.

100% of the net profits are going to hurricane relief across the country.  Is the beer stand with $9 cans of PBR going to be open?  There is a lot of profit in a $9 can of PBR.  That’s a lot of money going to hurricane relief.  Ugh, I can’t wait to get a $9 Schlitz on my lips.

I’m not going to get into the Jays too much because I don’t need a gang of Creighton fans tweeting at me about how I’m a garbage of a human being for not thinking the Jays are not going to be that great of a basketball team this season.

HOT TAKE: I don’t think Creighton will be that great this season.

They’ll still be better than Nebraska and UNO.  So good for them, I guess.  Actually, Nebraska’s roster looks pretty underrated…I think I say that every year so who cares.

Like, the Bluejays will be okay.  They received a preseason ranking of 4th in the Big East, which is more impressive than receiving a preseason ranking of 6th in the Summit League, but this Creighton team feels more like a 5th or a 6th place finish in the Big East.  Without a big time run in the Big East Tournament, the Bluejays are a NIT team.

Sure, Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas are great.  Toby Hegner and Ronnie Harrell Jr have their moments.  Martin Krampelj has some potential.

I also think Martin Krampelj should have a nickname of “Crampy Jay” but that’s just my opinion.

Still, doesn’t seem like the Bluejays have enough weapons to not be an inconsistent team this year.  It’s easy to look at a team with two stars like Thomas and Foster and say “hey, those are two good basketball players and they belong on a NCAA Tournament team.”  Two guys don’t always get you to the NCAA tournament.

This is all from a UNO fan who recognizes that the Mavericks are filled with new and even newer guys trying to fill the voids left from guys with big time roles.

The Mavericks lost their Big 3 in Tra-Deon Hollins, Marcus Tyus, and Tre’Shawn Thurman and will be counting on a committee to fill their most consistent scorer, best defender, and best rebounder.  Now their Big 3 is Mitch Hahn, Zach Jackson, and there is an application open for the third member.

As Mav fans, we’ve never really gotten that game that didn’t officially matter to see what the new guys on the team have to offer.  What a perfect opportunity to see what they can do against the team we’ve always wanted to play, and in our hometown.  It will be great to start the careers of freshmen Zach Thornhill and Matt Pile in a confusing setting wondering why two Division 1 teams in the same city don’t ever play each other in a regular season game.

Thornhill and Pile both come from Kansas, and there has been some chatter of both players being future All Conference players.  We’ll have to wait and see.  Pile shot 71 percent from the floor as a junior, and Thornhill has some abilities that make him sound like he could be the next John Konchar.

We’ll also be introduced to senior guard Renard Suggs. He sat out last season after transferring from Washington State, so it’s possible you forgot about him.  It’s possible with his three point shooting ability, that Suggs will be replacing some of the production lost by Tyus.  He’ll be competing for minutes with Daniel Norl, who I think is one of the most underrated guards in the Summit League.  I say that with a high level of bias.

And of course, the Mavericks are returning Zach Jackson as a starter, and might as well have been a starter Mitch Hahn.  I’ll throw out a guess that Creighton will base their defense on slowing down Hahn or forcing him into dumb shots.  Luckily for the Mavericks, no shot of Hahn’s is a dumb shot.

This is an exhibition game, and I’m sure the UNO players will take it far more seriously of a game than the Creighton players will.  That doesn’t mean Creighton won’t protect home court, as they definitely don’t want to lose to a Summit League team in the CenturyLink Center.  There still won’t be a huge amount of defense played, which is kind of a dream scenario for each team.

So here is a prediction:

The game will start out pretty close with Thomas and Foster getting to the rim whenever they want on offense, and Hahn and a mystery man on UNO getting off shots as they please.

Creighton will get a 10 point cushion in the first half, and UNO will stage a comeback and take a brief lead as the Bluejays go to their bench.

The game will be kind of close for a bit, but the Creighton players will take it pretty seriously in the last 5 minutes as Thomas and Foster run away with the game.

Also, at some point, Hahn will shoot a 3 from the First National Bank logo.

It should be fun though.  And we can take comfort in knowing that every Omaha World Herald story on the Mavericks for the rest of the season will come packaged with a stock photo from this game.

 

A Senior Day Double-Header, oh my

Saturday, the Mavericks will have two separate senior days for men’s and women’s basketball.  Both games we get to say goodbye to some truly great players.  Whether it is on or off the court, these six seniors are going to go on to do tremendous things.

Kyler Erickson

Not going to get too much into Erickson as we went through this last season.

Before being sidelined with an injury, he was expected to see a loss in playing time due to the returns of JT Gibson and Marcus Tyus, and the addition of Daniel Norl.  The Mavericks really could have used Erickson’s energy in a few games where they seemed completely flat, as well as his scrappy defense.  Mavs also missed his ability to take changes and get up and turn that momentum into nuclear energy.

Tra-Deon Hollins

Possibly, the most all-around basketball player that the Mavericks have ever had.  His court awareness on defense and his ability to steal the ball in passing lanes, and on double teams changed the way offenses played against Omaha.  It only took Hollins a year and a half to break the school record for career steals.  He ranks in the top-10 in all time career assists and has the most career assists since the transition.

Hollins’ game against South Dakota State in Baxter Arena his junior year will go down as one of the greatest single game performances in Maverick history.  The Jackrabbits were the top team in the Summit League at the time, and Hollins scored 28 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, dished 8 assists, recorded 4 steals, and had a huge block in the final seconds to help secure a 96-92 Maverick win.

He led the NCAA in steals in his junior year, and is currently 3nd in the NCAA in steals per game his senior year.  His 93 steals on the season is tied for the most total on the year so far.  Hollins is also currently tied in 3rd in Division 1 in assists per game, and is tied in 4th in total assists.

Hollins has potential to play basketball in Europe or the NBDL, but it is unclear if either of those possibilities truly interest him.  Either way, Hollins is going to find himself in a fantastic situation and be very successful.

Marcus Tyus

One of the most efficient and explosive players the Mavericks have ever had.  When you first see Tyus, it is probably easy to think he is just a one dimensional player that hangs out behind the 3 point line and waits for guys to pass to him.  He is far more than that.  Tyus is great at finding space and blowing by his defender to get to the basket for points in the paint, and he has a deadly mid-range game as well.

All the time in athletics, we see players get injured and end up seeing the unexpected teammate come in and fill the shoes to be a catalyst for the team’s confidence in that time of need.  Tyus’ coming out party, may have been in his sophomore season when senior Justin Simmons sat down with an injury just one minute into the game against South Carolina State.  Tyus was only averaging 7 points per game on the season at that point, but he came in when the Mavericks needed him most and scored 24 points off the bench on 8-of-13 shooting.

There is no doubt that the Mavericks missed Tyus in 2015-2016.  Without his shooting, the Mavericks were one of the worst three point shooting teams in the Summit League last year, but are 1st in three point field goal percentage in conference play in 2016-2017.  The Mavericks struggled to score the ball at times with him on the bench as a senior.  There was no player more important to their offense in 2016-2017…maybe his back court senior teammate Hollins.  They probably tie actually.

Over time, Tyus has improved as a defender, and part of that came with having a bigger players on the court so he wasn’t always forced to defend guys that were 4+ inches taller than him.

He’s proven to be one of the best scoring guards in the history of the Mavericks.  With at least 2 games to go in his senior season, Tyus is 2 three point field goals away from tying the 5th most threes in a season by a Maverick, this is the most threes made by a Maverick in a season since transition.  He’s also 38 points away from being in the top 10 all time for Mavericks in scoring.


Michaela Dapprich

Your first thoughts when you heard Michaela Dapprich was transferring to UNO from Wichita State were most likely positive.  Probably the same excitement you get every time Christopher Nolan released a trailer for a new Batman film.

A Missouri Valley Conference Honorable Mention Player wants to come play basketball at UNO?  Sweet.

It was like over night there was hope that Mikaela Shaw and Remy Davenport would have a consistent third threat on offense.  In 2013-2014, the Mavericks had Paige Frauendorfer, Jamie Nash, and Carolyn Blair-Mobley as a dangerous Big 3.  Now, Maverick fans had a feeling that we could have that same type of threat in 2016-2017.

It seemed to take Dapprich a bit to find her stride with the Mavericks.  She struggled as the Mavericks struggled with their difficult non-conference schedule, but came around to find consistency on offense when the team got to conference play, in a competitive year for the Summit League.

In conference play, Dapprich is currently 6th in points per game, 5th in 3 point field goals made and 3 point field goal percentage, and 5th in overall field goal percentage.

You would never expect her teammate Mikaela Shaw to take a possession off, but you could feel comfortable as a Maverick fan that if Shaw was struggling, that Dapprich could take over.  Dapprich is also not afraid of the big shot and looks to score in clutch moments when the Mavericks need the ball the most.

The only thing you regret about Michaela Dapprich joining the Mavericks is that it makes you really wish we had more time with her.

Abi Lujan

Lujan is one of those special players that does not need stats to make a difference in a basketball game.  Her will and hustle is enough to swing possessions in the Mavericks favor.  When the Mavericks needed a spark off the bench in her senior season, Lujan was not shy to provide such a spark.  She was one of the best Mavericks in her junior and senior years with the team at boxing out and taking away rebounds when needed.

Mikaela Shaw

Plain and simple, the Mavericks will never have a player like Shaw ever again.  As a true all around talent, she will leave a legacy at UNO as arguably the greatest women’s basketball the university has ever seen.

Shaw came to Omaha during a difficult time for the Mavericks.  They were already in transition and moving through a coaching change in her freshman season with an entirely new roster.  She has seen a revolving door of teammates on her rosters and she remained with the program.

Her freshman season was filled with moments that had you thinking she was going to be an all time great.

A rare talent on offense, Shaw has probably spent some time at every single position for the Mavericks.  She’s one of the best players you’ve probably ever seen at picking her spots and playing with or without the ball.  Watching her on offense is similar to watching Batman in The Dark Knight secretly tying up all of the SWAT team members so he can push them over the ledge to go get a one-on-one with the Joker.  She systematically runs through every member of the defense to find her spots for open shots.

Shaw will leave UNO as the greatest.


A nerdy thing I like to do is keep track of the career and class rankings for the era after transitioning.  Though a young history, here are where these seniors rank respectively.

Points

2nd Marcus Tyus                1272

7th Tra-Deon Hollins       753

20th Kyler Erickson           198

Rebounds

7th Marcus Tyus                  313

9th Tra-Deon Hollins        283

20th Kyler Erickson              97

Assists

1st Tra-Deon Hollins         385

6th Marcus Tyus                  158

14th Kyler Erickson              43

Steals

1st Tra-Deon Hollins         220

4th Marcus Tyus                  117

18th Kyler Erickson             24

Blocks

9th Tra-Deon Hollins          20

15th Marcus Tyus                   12

21st Kyler Erickson                 5

3 Point Field Goals

1st Marcus Tyus                     161

8th Tra-Deon Hollins            54

15th Kyler Erickson                27

 


Points

1st Mikaela Shaw                   1731

7th Michaela Dapprich          376

22nd Abi Lujan                         182

Rebounds

1st Mikaela Shaw                    880

4th Abi Lujan                           290

17th Michaela Dapprich        119

Assists

2nd Mikaela Shaw                   303

10th Abi Lujan                            59

13th Michaela Dapprich          49

Steals

2nd Mikaela Shaw                   136

9th Abi Lujan                              42

12th Michaela Dapprich          37

Blocks

4th Mikaela Shaw                      49

9th Abi Lujan                               14

12th Michaela Dapprich           11

3 Point Field Goals

7th Michaela Dapprich             49

9th Mikaela Shaw                       42

17th Abi Lujan                              19

 

Summit League Predictions: Feb 22-25

A little better last week, but damn it this league is hard.

February 22

North Dakota State @ Oral Roberts on ESPN3

The Bison really had no answer for Albert Owens in Fargo as he went off for 28 points and 9 rebounds for the losing Golden Eagles.  The Bison have lost their last 2 road games, and this will be Oral Roberts’ Mega Bowl as they are only playing for a good show and to send their seniors out the right way on their last game.

Omaha @ Denver

Denver shot 64 percent the last time these two teams played, and still lost.  The Mavericks were able to pick up a win in Denver last season, but with 29 points from Jake White as the rest of the team struggled a bit.

Okay, I might be trying to reverse jinx the Mavericks here.

It costs $9.95 to view this game on the Pioneers’ website.  I really don’t want to give them my money, but I might.

February 23

Fort Wayne @ IUPUI on ESPN3

Fort Wayne defeated the Jaguars by 30 a month ago.  IUPUI had 20 turnovers in that game, and it’s probably a bad idea to give the fast paced team like Fort Wayne the ball 20 times at home.

The Jaguars will not turn the ball over that much at home, but their offense is not good enough, even against a sub par defense like Fort Wayne’s, to put up enough points to make up the difference against the Mastodons.  I say that, and remember at one time Western Illinois once outscored Fort Wayne.

South Dakota @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Western Illinois’ defense is capable of frustrating South Dakota, but South Dakota’s defense is also capable of frustrating the non-existent offense of Western Illinois.

South Dakota was without Tyler Flack and were able to beat Western Illinois in Vermillion.  The Leathernecks’ post players are not very well built to stop a player like Flack.

February 25

Denver @ South Dakota State on ESPN3

After a 51 point and 15 rebound performance against a fast paced offensive Fort Wayne, Mike Daum gets a week of rest to play a fast paced offensive Denver.

Maybe this is Mike Daum’s last game in Brookings?  Maybe not.  Either way, good luck Denver.

South Dakota @ IUPUI on ESPN3

The Jaguars are completely unpredictable, who knows what they’ll do.  They lost in Vermillion when the Coyotes were playing without Tyler Flack.  The Jaguars will need to knock down threes against the South Dakota defense, but the match up of the day could come down to Tyler Flack versus Matt O’Leary.

North Dakota State @ Omaha

The Mavericks have shown that they are a tough team to beat when they come out with a high energy level, and they should definitely be playing with some energy on senior night for Marcus Tyus and Tra-Deon Hollins…and Kyler Erickson.

Are the Mavericks going to get a medical hardship for Erickson and make him a 7 year senior next season?

The game between these two last season in Omaha was one of the better games Maverick fans have seen at Baxter Arena or Ralston Arena.  The energy for both teams was high.  The Bison had to figure out how to play without AJ Jacobson, who was in foul trouble.  Jake White had to sit a little bit with some foul trouble, but came back into the game and made huge shot after huge shot.  The Bison were also without Paul Miller in that game, and he is capable of hitting big shots against the Mavericks defense.  Hollins, Tyus, Zach Jackson, and Daniel Norl will need to play big defensive minutes and slow him down.

The Bison are also not the greatest team on the road.  They have lost their last 3 of 4 on the road with the one win at Western Illinois.

Fort Wayne @ Western Illinois on ESPN3

Okay, so my take on their previous match up couldn’t have been more wrong as I just wrote:

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

Western Illinois somehow won that game.

Western Illinois was in a zone in that stretch of the season where they were hitting threes with consistency and putting up points.  Other than a 91 point performance in a double overtime game last week, the Leathernecks have struggled to score over the last month and a half.

Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak could go off against the poor defense of Fort Wayne.  That could be enough to top the Mastodons, maybe.

This could potentially be Billy Wright’s last game with Western Illinois.  Maybe the Leathernecks will want to see what he can do next season with a core of Brandon Gilbeck, Dalan Ancrum, and CJ Duff.  I don’t really know though, Western Illinois appears to care the least about athletics in the league.  He’s only been at Western Illinois for 3 seasons, but the Leathernecks have still yet to earn 20 wins over D1 teams.

Tyus versus Bradley: A match up we never expected

Thursday night will mark, probably, the last time that Marcus Tyus and Jalen Bradley face off against each other, a match up Maverick fans never expected to see.

Seeing Marcus Bradley and Jalen Bradley in Omaha gear for the first time gave me a mix of emotions.

The first time I saw Tyus in person, he was coming off the bench to play a Western Illinois squad in the Ralston Arena.  He came into the game, and it appeared as if someone replaced the muscle in his arms with paper mache.  He didn’t scored any points and had only had 1 rebound, and I just found myself wondering why the hell the Mavericks were not redshirting this kid for his own benefit, and for the benefit of the program having him another year when they officially had a chance at making the post season.  The Mavs decision to not redshirt Tyus was apparently made the day before the 2012-2013 season started.

I questioned what this skinny guy from Minnesota could do.  I remember searching the ends of the internet to find any information I could on this freshman, and there was nothing.  This was a time, where it was easy to question why a kid would want to come play basketball at a school transitioning to division one.  There was nothing out there, almost as if he never existed.

That same season, we saw another freshman of that recruiting class, Jalen Bradley, sitting at the end of the bench who was redshirting.  As a fellow Nebraskan, it was easy to know where to go to get the details on Bradley.  It was known that he was a great shooter, and probably needed to work on his defense and point guard skills.  The fans that showed up to games in 2012-2013 could watch Bradley come out before the beginning of warm ups, and watch him drain half court shots as easy as free throws.

Omaha was the only school to give Bradley a division one offer at the time, and I’m not sure how much stock you want to put in Omaha’s division one status at the time.  As far as I can tell, Omaha was also the only division one offer for Marcus Tyus.

The question I had back then was: why are the Mavericks redshirting this one kid who appears to have the exact same positives and negatives of this other kid?

This may sound as if I was resentful toward Tyus over Bradley as a freshman.  I was not.  Both players were part of maybe UNO’s best recruiting class, but perhaps the 2015 recruiting class will prove to be a bigger asset to the program.  With the Mavericks coming closer to post season eligibility with each passing season, it was understandable that the recruiting would improve year-after-year.

With the recruiting continuing to improve, I never imagined either Tyus or Bradley to become starters for the Mavericks.  I was always under the impression that they would have been the high energy and highly efficient guys first off the bench when the transition period was over.

The first impression of Tyus wasn’t great, but after time you could see there was a spark to his game.  At first, he may have seemed as just a shooter.  There was an efficiency to his game, something that many Mavericks at the division one level had not had.

He handles the ball with ease, and moves around screens into open shots or open lanes to get wherever he wants on the basketball court.  Tyus even rarely makes a pass that has you wondering what he could have possibly been thinking in that scenario, unlike many other stars that have come through the Maverick program.

In Tyus’ sophomore season, he saw a slight increase of minutes in the line up due to injuries to senior Justin Simmons.  At the time, it became maybe questionable as to why Tyus was getting the start over senior Alex Phillips.  Tyus’ efficiency on the offensive end could have been the deciding factor as to why he got the starting job.

From his freshman to his sophomore season, Tyus’ points per game average increased by 3.4 points per game, and his minutes only increased by 1.5 minutes per game.

While Tyus was seeing success, Jalen Bradley was struggling to see the court as a Maverick. Bradley only played 9 minutes per game as a freshman, which were mostly garbage time minutes, and his lone season as a Maverick was cut short due to an injury.  Still, when Bradley saw the court, he was never timid to score.  He averaged nearly 5 points per game in his limited time, shot 50 percent from the field, and 40 percent on threes.

With the addition of Devin Patterson, I’m sure Bradley felt he may never see the court with the Mavericks, and that maybe there was no role for him in Omaha.

Bradley’s transfer for more playing time was understandable, but when Tyus went down with an injury toward the end of 2014-2015, Bradley’s presence on the basketball court would have been much appreciated.

With the loss of Tyus, and having no Bradley, the Mavericks were left without an efficient guard who could knock down threes with ease.  Can you imagine Omaha with Jalen Bradley on the court in 2015-2016 without Marcus Tyus?  The Mavericks would have had a knock down shooter.  He would of had the bigger role he was seeking.

Even without an injury to Tyus, Bradley would’ve eventually found a role with the Mavericks by his junior season.  Both the Omaha and Oral Roberts coaching staffs have given him a high amount of praise for how hard of a worker he is in the gym and in the weight room.  He may have had even the same role at Omaha as he currently does at Oral Roberts, but obviously the cast of Omaha could be different at this point had he stayed.

But Bradley did leave, he averaged over 17 points per game in junior college, and picked up interest that led him to being a Golden Eagle, so we’ll never know what could have been.

I am not sure if there are any ill feelings from Bradley toward Tyus for being part of the reason he didn’t get a lot of playing time in Omaha, but in their first meeting as opponents, Bradley helped the Golden Eagles cruise to a victory and had 24 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and only had 1 turnover while Tyus dealt with foul problems and only had 10 points.

According to the commentators, Bradley had his parents in attendance in Tulsa…and also according to them, you always play better in front of your family.  Bradley will surely have his Nebraskan family seeing him in Omaha Thursday night, and they will definitely show up to see the senior play in Vermillion, where his sister also plays basketball.

Back in 2012, we never envisioned a day that we would see Bradley and Tyus going up against each other.  As Mav fans, this might be awkward for us.  Rooting on Tyus to defend Bradley well, but still kind of okay with Bradley having a good game.

 

 

 

Summit League predictions: Jan 31-Feb 4

After going two straight weeks of 4-4, I had my best week this year at 7-1.  Stupid South Dakota, had I known Tyler Flack was back, I would have changed my tune.

January 31

Denver (5-4) @ Oral Roberts (3-6) on ESPN3

This game will be close until the very end.  Albert Owens and Daniel Amigo can match up well and cancel each other out, so hopefully neither of them gets in foul trouble.

February 1

North Dakota State (6-1) @ IUPUI (3-6) on ESPN3

It’s hard to feel a lot of confidence in IUPUI right now.  They have lost three in a row, and one game was a 30 point lost to Fort Wayne.  They can usually keep games close, but have had some terrible clock management down the final stretches of games.  If you watch the Jaguars, the players appear to be losing confidence, especially Darell Combs and Jason Gardner constantly looks confused.  The body language is not good for the Jaguars right now, and it’s the worst time of the year to be going through that.

The last three games between these two teams have been close, as they do match up well with each other.  The last road game the Bison had, they beat Western Illinois by 32.

Western Illinois (3-6) @ South Dakota State (3-6) on ESPN3

South Dakota State has looked better defensively since moving away from so much zone defense.  Hard to believe these two teams are playing for not finishing in last in the conference.

Mike Daum has 8 points in Macomb.  That wont happen again.  He’s averaged 31.5 at home in conference play.

South Dakota (6-3) @ Omaha (4-5)

South Dakota made Omaha look silly in Vermillion, and the Mavericks should hopefully be out for revenge.  Marcus Tyus will not go 1-of-12 again.  Tre’Shawn Thurman seems like he is very upset with the Mavericks rebounding recently, and Thurman has a history of being very good when being fired up.

Tyler Flack came back to the ‘Yotes lineup to help South Dakota complete a sweep of Denver.  He will be able to help and defend a potentially fired up Tre’Shawn Thurman, but if he gets in foul trouble or shows a little fatigue coming back from injury then Thurman could go off.  Flack did score 19 against Denver, so he doesn’t appear too rusty.

The ‘Yotes defense and three point shooting will keep this game close, and my teeth hurt thinking that it will be one of those games where the opponent has a 10 point lead, Omaha gets it down to 2, then it goes back to 10, then Omaha gets it down to 1, and it goes back to 10.

Hey, maybe Omaha can win on South Dakota possibly looking ahead to North Dakota State, but I think I am pushing it.

February 4th

South Dakota (6-3) @ North Dakota State (7-1) on ESPN3

The Bison had to build a big lead to hold off South Dakota in Vermillion.  Fargo is not an easy place for away teams to play basketball.  The only two teams to win in Fargo this season are from the state of North Dakota.

Fort Wayne (5-4) @ Denver (5-4)

This could be a really fun game with little defense, just as there was in Fort Wayne.

The Pioneers were able to hold John Konchar to 6 points on 1-of-5 shooting in Fort Wayne in their first meeting. How is that possible?  I’m asking on behalf of the other seven teams in the Summit League.

Last year, Konchar had 10 points and was 4-of-8 from the free throw line in Denver against the Pioneers’ old Princeton style.  But seriously, have the Pioneers kidnapped someone and Konchar is mentally off his game like when Lex Luthor kidnapped Clark Kent’s mother to make Superman go do something stupid like fight Batman?

Oral Roberts (3-6) @ South Dakota State (3-6) on ESPN3

South Dakota State gets Western Illinois and Oral Roberts at home this week.  Good for them.  Cannot wait for the South Dakota State is Back story lines.

Omaha (4-5) @ Western Illinois (4-5) on ESPN3

Omaha was bitter about losing at Western Illinois last season.  It altered their season from a top two finish in the league to dropping to third and not getting an extra day of rest in the Summit League tournament (if they would have won in the first round).

The Mavericks hit 15 threes against the Leathernecks in Omaha earlier this season and forced the young Leathernecks to 18 turnovers.

Garret Covington appears to be feeling better than he did while in Omaha, so defense on him could become critical for the Mavericks.  Anyone else feel like Daniel Norl is becoming the best Mavericks perimeter defender?  He had some good minutes on defense against John Konchar, and he played good defense against South Dakota State.  Might be time to give him some more minutes, just as the Mavericks did last season toward the end of conference play with Kyler Erickson last year.

My trivial Summit League rankings – Jan 4

I didn’t get to watch any Summit League games over the last couple of weeks because I was visiting my in-laws in Oregon, and well…the time change messed with me in a number of ways.  Anyway, here are some observations that do not really mean a whole bunch this early on in the conference season.

1.North Dakota State

Did you know that AJ Jacobson had his first two consecutive games with more than 10 points over D1 opponents this season, in the Bison wins against Omaha and South Dakota State?  If Jacobson can get back to where he once was, the Bison could potentially win 13 or 14 conference games.  They have the maturity, depth, and coaching to last with anyone in the Summit League.

2. Fort Wayne

Scientists will be working for years trying to figure out how exactly the ‘Dons lost to Western Illinois.  Sure, they could just someone who was at the game, but they will have to wait until Fort Wayne fans come out of their group coma.

3. South Dakota

The newcomers for South Dakota have been able to gel well together, which is exactly what they needed for a successful year.  With their next three home games against IUPUI, North Dakota State, and Fort Wayne, they may be able to pick up some wins against some of the top competition in the conference and really get some momentum going to be a top team in the league.

Over the last five games Matt Mooney  has averaged – 18.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.2 spg

4. IUPUI

The Jaguars are going to have a tough week at North Dakota State and South Dakota.  They have the depth to really make a run when they get to the Summit League tournament, and they have yet to deal with an actual injury.  Matt O’Leary and Darell Combs are quietly one of the better forward-guard combinations in the Summit League.  The two combined for 48 points against Western Illinois last week.

5. Denver

I don’t like Denver being good.  They’ve had the 3rd easiest strength of schedule, per RPI, in the Summit League.  So go them.

6. Omaha

The Mavericks have had problems shooting the ball in a number of games this season.  They are 0-4 when shooting under 40 percent from the field.  They are also 1-5 when their opponents shoot better than 45 percent.  That record shouldn’t be shocking, but that’s a lot of games of allowing teams to shoot high percentages.

Teams that throw zone at them are giving them problems.  John Karhoff pointed out that in his day, the Mavericks were able be successful against the zone when their guards were able to penetrate and create opportunities.

It’s growing more important for Tra-Deon Hollins, Marcus Tyus, and KJ Robinson to attack and create these opportunities.  Even though the Mavericks have more shooters this season, there is more standing around, especially off the bench, and not enough guys attacking the basket.

7. South Dakota State

Mike Daum needed to score a lay up in the final seconds to give the Jackrabbits a win over the Coyotes on New Year’s Eve.  The team has minor issues, but nothing they cant figure out by the time of the Summit League tournament.  They’re at the point where they are just going to give the ball to Daum and let him do whatever he wants, and hope to God some random guy can have a good night to help out.  It’s worked out a few times.

The Jackrabbits are 3-0 if Andre Wallace scores more than 10, who I feel like is the perfect guard off the bench to make Omaha cry.  Wallace played at Iowa Western, just putting that out there.

8. Western Illinois

It’s possible that they used their One Upset a Year card against Fort Wayne.

Mike Miklusak has been healthy for the last 8 games, and given the Leathernecks a second weapon, as he averages 16.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.  Miklusak has dealt with injury issues since he was a sophomore.  He got hurt last year in a game at Omaha and then had 14 points and 11 rebounds to upset the Mavericks in Macomb.  So that’s great.  If Miklusak can remain healthy, maybe the Leathernecks can rise in the standings a bit and secure a spot in the Summit League tournament this season.

9. Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles didn’t pick up a win against a D1 team until December 19th, but they beat a Little Rock by 15, team that is currently 10-5.  They also went on to beat an Atlantic 10 team.  Then started Summit League play with two road games, and didn’t do too bad.  Even though they be having a bad year, you’re scared of them.

They may not be a super talented team, but they have some guys that could provide the ingredients for an upset if they get a little hot.